Who doesn't love Camelot? The sweeping medieval legend of King Arthur has captivated storytellers for centuries, inspiring everything from The Sword in the Stone to Game of Thrones. The most recent retelling was in Netflix’s Cursed, which sees Arthur fall in love with Nimue, the enchantress who goes on to become the Lady of the Lake. In the ’90s, stories inspired by King Arthur weren’t quite so gritty or mysterious, veering instead toward family-friendly adventure fare. But the bones of this classic tale still hold up.
A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, currently streaming on Disney+, is a hidden gem that whimsically merges sci-fi with fantasy. With a logline of “Joust do it,” the film eagerly embraces its over-the-top absurdity. Borrowing liberally from Mark Twain’s 1889 novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, the 1995 film follows Calvin Fuller (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and his adventures in sixth-century Camelot.
Calvin is an earnest — if not particularly gifted — baseball player. However, his whole life changes when an earthquake hits Los Angeles and he’s sent plummeting through a hole in the Earth (and in time), landing smack dab in the middle of King Arthur’s court. Calvin is quickly accepted and sent to train with Sir Kane (Daniel Craig, before he was James Bond), Arthur’s best knight.
Having come from the future, Calvin introduces the court to what they believe is magic — a CD player and roller skates, among several other ‘90s objects mystify Camelot’s citizens. The teen joins forces with Sir Kane and Princess Sarah (Kate Winslet) to save her sister Princess Katey (Paloma Baeza) from Lord Belasco (Art Malik), the stereotypical villain attempting to steal the throne from Arthur. It’s all in a day’s work for the baseball knight.
Critics didn’t take to this film upon its release, but they didn’t much like Hocus Pocus either and that film reached cult status in the years after its release. A Kid in King Arthur’s Court is full of adventure, corny jokes, and fun sword fights. Calvin even learns to ride horses and is nerdy enough to fit into King Arthur’s world. It’s a bit hard to believe that Arthur and company wouldn’t be suspicious of Calvin, his language pattern, and his ‘90s gear (including his baseball outfit), but their acceptance and willingness to welcome him into their home makes for a heartwarming bit of escapism.
Does the time travel here make sense? Not really, but that’s part of the charm. Besides, when does time travel ever really make sense? Calvin’s issues are similar to that of many teens. The insecurity and pressure to be good at something can plague us into adulthood. A Kid in King Arthur’s Court also helped launch the careers of Winslet and Craig, who went on to become household names.
Ultimately, the film is the perfect blend of swashbuckling escapades, exaggerated villains, and Arthurian mythology wrapped up in a neat ‘90s bow. The movie is not meant to be overanalyzed, but it's junk food entertainment at its finest.
A Kid in King Arthur’s Court is currently streaming on Disney+.
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